Chinatown, Sydney

Sydney is full of fun places and faces from all corners of the earth. You can eat English for breakfast, Indonesian for lunch and French for dinner if you’d like. The diverse cosmopolitan city offers something for everyone and every budget, and does it with flair. The bustling Darling Harbour, Bondi Beach, and Kings Cross all offer visitors fantastic experiences and sights, but Chinatown in Sydney offers one of the best cultural experiences in town. Sydney’s Chinatown is one of the largest in the world and is loved by all for its authentic food and the ability to find bargains when shopping!

Sydney’s Chinatown has been around since the 1920’s, changing locations a few times before landing in the central location it’s at today.  Chinatown’s humble beginnings started in The Rocks Precinct, where the first cluster of Chinese immigrants stopped for supplies before heading to the goldfields in the 1850s. The next major migration of Chinatown stretches down to Haymarket as this is where the fruit and vegetable markets were located. This area is now the heart of Chinatown though its borderlines do extend from the Rocks through to Haymarket and Darling Harbour.

Chinatown is located in the city centre next to Haymarket and Darling Harbour and is open every day of the year. It is also been named Australia’s biggest Chinatown. Filled with hundreds of stalls, thousands of people, and plenty of food, this is a must-stop in your travels to Sydney. Chinatown is the home to many international residents and prides itself on its diverse population. Chinese is not the only cuisine you’ll find here. There are hundreds of nearby shops, cafes, and restaurants that serve up all cuisines like Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Vietnamese.

Chinatown is a great spot to shop for spices, knock-off items such as chargers, headphones, purses and shoes, and hard-to-find Asian foods. Sydney’s Chinatown also boasts itself as being one of the cleanest and safest Chinatowns in the world. Dixon Street is the main street for Chinatown, with many shops and Chinese restaurants in a pedestrian-only street. In the 1980s business owners raised funds for the ceremonial Chinese archways found at the entrance. Hay Street houses the most entertainment in the whole neighbourhood, including the City Amusement, an entire entertainment complex. Also on Hay Street is the Market City, a modern shopping area filled with restaurants, shops, and lots and lots of tourists! It’s also home to Australia’s largest Asian supermarket, and restaurants that stay open till 3 am in case you’re wanting an after-midnight snack. It’s also the spot where yum cha is not only a dinner option but a breakfast one as well! Market City is incredibly easy to get to and is only a 15-minute walk from Central Station.

The biggest attraction in the area is the Paddy’s Markets, which include hundreds of stalls located in the flea market. Here you’ll find all sorts of novelty items and fashion, gifts for your loved ones and amazing food from different cultures across the world. Your best bet is to get there early and on the first day of the week, it’s open. The Paddy’s Markets are only open Wednesday-Saturday 10 am-10pm. On the first Saturday of every month, Paddy’s Markets is open from 6 pm to 10 pm for a night of foodie delights thanks to the range of gourmet food trucks. Paddy’s Markets is a high ranking attraction for tourists and is the perfect place to find Australian souvenirs to take home for your family and friends.

Every Friday night, the Chinatown Night Market brings the area alive in a festive array of live entertainment and late-night shopping. Follow the trail of lanterns on a food adventure that will see you trying delicious ramens, Taiwanese desserts and so much more!
Some notable restaurants in the area are the ever-popular Mamak, a Malaysian restaurant that pays homage to the bold and aromatic street food of Kuala Lumpur. If that’s not enough to convince you then the long queues waiting outside will be! The authenticity of this restaurant provides customers with a reason to return back every time they make their way to Chinatown. A great restaurant that’s made its way to Sydney from Beijing is Quanjude, which specialises in Peking Duck. This chain restaurant has over 100 years of legacy on its belt and has been known to host world leaders at their restaurant in Beijing. It has now made its way down to Sydney where it has been welcomed and loved by locals and tourists alike.

For the sculpture lovers, check out the Golden Water Mouth sculpture by George and Hay Street. It is said that it is a good luck charm for the Chinese community living in the area. If you plan your trip right, you may just be in luck and be there for the Chinese New Year festival.

The Chinese New Year festival is a great time to visit Sydney as Chinatown is buzzing with energy and vibrancy, with a parade that goes long into the night under the lights of zodiac lanterns. Sydney’s celebrations of Chinese New Year include dragon boat racing in Darling Harbour, lion dances and great food options to choose from around the city.

Another great thing to check out in Chinatown is the outdoor art installation by artist Jason Wing. Blue clouds swirl up the streets onto the walls and illuminate at night-time by silver figures that hover above street level. It’s a brilliant addition to the colourful decorations of Chinatown and a must-see for tourists.

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